Use of Water by Electric Generating Facilities in Texas
Use of Water by
Electric Generating Facilities in Texas
Legislative advertising paid for by: John W. Fainter, Jr. • President and CEO Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Inc.
1005 Congress, Suite 600 • Austin, TX 78701 • phone 512-474-6725 • fax 512-474-9670 • www.aect.net
• AECT is an advocacy group composed of member companies committed to:
- Ensuring a modern, reliable infrastructure for the supply & delivery of
- Supporting efficient competitive markets that are fair to customers and
- Supporting consistent and predictable oversight and regulation that will
promote investment and ensure the stability of Texas’ electric industry.
- Promoting an economically strong and environmentally healthy future for
Texas, including conservation and efficient use of available resources.
• AECT member companies remain dedicated to providing Texas customers with
reliable service and are committed to the highest standards of integrity.
The Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Inc. (AECT) is a trade organization of investor-
owned electric companies in Texas. Organized in 1978, AECT provides a forum for member
company representatives to exchange information about public policy, and to communicate with
government officials and the public. For more information, visit www.aect.net.
AECT Member Companies!
Retail Electric Providers
Transmission and Distribution Utilities
Outside of ERCOT!
SERC Reliability Corporation
Southwest Power Pool (SPP)
Western Electricity Coordinating
• AECT member companies represent the largest private owners,
builders, and operators of reservoirs in Texas.
• Water supply is essential to the reliable generation of electricity.
– Water supply is generally obtained in the form of water contracts/rights,
prior to the construction of an electric generation station.
– Water contracts/rights are secured at a level to ensure a reliable water source
during future drought periods.
How Texasʼ Power Plants
• Most power plants heat water until it becomes steam, then pressurize that steam to
turn a generating turbine.!
• The steam is then routed to a condenser, where the water is condensed and reused
in the steam cycle.!
• Water from one or more reservoirs or cooling towers is used to cool the condenser,
making it possible to recycle the water to make steam.!
How Texasʼ Power Plants
• The heat added to the water as it ﬂows through the condenser must be allowed to
dissipate from the system in some way.!
• One way the cooling can occur is when cooling water is pumped from a reservoir
through a condenser and is returned to the reservoir.!
• If the heat is dissipated in a cooling tower, the heat dissipation occurs almost
entirely by conduction and convection, or by evaporation, depending on the type
of cooling tower.!
How Texasʼ Power Plants
• AECT member companies have an outstanding record of water
regulation compliance, and conduct rigorous biological monitoring tests
at generating facilities.!
• In addition to surface water use permits and groundwater permits in
Groundwater Conservation Districts, electric generating companies in
Texas are required to have permits for their wastewater discharge.!
• In addition to complying with state and federal water regulations, AECT
member companies are committed to practicing sound water
– Restore aquatic habitats.!
– Preserve ecosystems.!
– Enhance and create valuable wetlands.!
• In addition, reservoirs created by electric generating companies are used
for recreational purposes, including camping, boating, ﬁshing and
Water Issues Impacting
Electric Generation Facilities
• Flow conditions in Texas’ rivers and streams are necessary to support a
sound ecological environment.!
• State agencies have been engaged in studies of the requirements for
instream ﬂows since the late 1960s, particularly with regard to freshwater
inﬂows to bays and estuaries.!
• Some cities and municipalities are concerned that a signiﬁcant portion of
their water supply could be relocated due to instream ﬂows.!
• It is imperative that existing water rights are protected.
• Oppose adaptive management requirements.
• Texas has 23 River Basins!
• Current statute:!
– Rights to diverted water becomes “junior” to other rights in that basin.
– Economic impact analysis required for both basins involved in the transfer.
• Development of a mechanism for protection for current water
rights holders should be studied.
• Property owner owns groundwater (i.e., right of capture)!
• Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCD) established to manage groundwater
(e.g., conservation, establish fees)!
• AECT member companies have facilities located within numerous GCDs.!
• AECT Member Company operations:!
– Mine dewatering !
– Cooling and/or drinking water!
– Some groundwater resources are held for future development!
• Support right of capture.
• Support water conservation.
• Do not support historic use limitations.
• Do not support groundwater use fees for dewatering wells.
• AECT member companies owns and/or operate dozens of reservoirs
– Generators have the right to impound groundwater, but state owns surface water.
– The surface water is waters of the state and must be obtained via water contracts or
• AECT member companies serving on several Regional Water Planning Groups.
– The regional water plans were approved by the Texas Water Development Board in
– The water plans will be updated every five years.
• 50 year water use projections
• Identification of water projects to meet projections
• Identification of un-used water
– Non-use for 10 years, state may cancel uncommitted water rights
• Water Contracts are necessary for continued operation of existing facilities.
– Some held for future generating units or drought conditions
• Opposed to cancellation of uncommitted water contracts/rights.
• Long term contracts required for future projects and drought
Federal Water Issues!
Cooling Towers under Clean Water Act Sec.316(b)
EPA is revising its cooling water intake structure rules under the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 316(b)
for new and existing power plants.
EPA plans for a proposed rule in December 2010 and a ﬁnal rule by July 2012.
EPA wants to propose that new and existing once-through cooling plants retroﬁt cooling towers.
AECT opposes the mandatory use of cooling towers since they use more electricity, consume more water
from evaporation than the use of cooling lakes, and are very expensive to build. Dry cooling technology is
generally inappropriate for the climate in Texas.
Electric Generating Unit- Efﬂuent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs)
In September 2009, EPA announced its intention to review the Steam Electric Generating Unit (EGU)
Efﬂuent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs).
EPA believes wastewater discharges will increase due to installation of new pollution control equipment
In June 2010, the EPA distributed an Information Collection Request (ICR) to EGUs across the U.S.
(including several Texas’ genearting units) and a ﬁnal rule is anticipated in 2014.
AECT Summary Position!
• Electric utilities have a duty to plan for the long-term needs of our
• AECT member companies have made substantial investments to
secure water contracts/rights and groundwater resources in
advance of actual use.
• All of these water contracts/rights and groundwater resources have
been or are held for a substantial period of time for future
generating units and also during drought periods for existing power
• AECT member companies strongly oppose:
– any attempt to cancel unused water contracts/rights;
– establishment of historical use limits for groundwater; and
– assessment of fees for dewatering ahead of coal mining.